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Tag: U.S. Attorney

Suburban D.C. Man Accused of Spying for Syria

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In the suburbs of D.C., resident Mohamad Anas Haitham Soueid was more than just a suburban dweller, at least according to the FBI.

Authorities announced this week charges against the 47-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen, who lived in Leesburg, Va., and allegedly collected video and audio recordings and other information about people in the U.S. and Syria who were protesting the government of Syria.

Authorities alleged the he turned over materails to Syrian intelligence agencies “in order to silence, intimidate, and potentially harm the protestors.” He was arrested on Tuesday.

A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., charged him with conspiring to act as an agent of the Syrian government in the United States without notifying the Attorney General as required by law; two counts of providing false statements on a firearms purchase form; and two counts of providing false statements to federal law enforcement.

“The ability to assemble and protest is a cherished right in the United States, and it’s troubling that a U.S. citizen from Leesburg is accused of working with the Syrian government to identify and intimidate those who exercise that right,” U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of Alexandria said in a statement. “Spying for another country is a serious threat to our national security, especially when it threatens the ability of U.S. citizens to engage in political speech within our own borders.”

 

Major Shakeup at ATF; Thomas Brandon Named New Deputy Director

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A big shakeup has begun at ATF.

Thomas Brandon, who had recently been sent from Detroit to head up the Phoenix Division and clean up the fall out from Operation Fast and Furious, will become the agency’s deputy director — the number two person.

The acting number two person, William J. Hoover, will move from headquarters to head up ATF’s Washington Field Office. And  Mark Chait, Assistant Director of Field Operations, will head up the Baltimore Division.

At headquarters, Mark Potter, former head of the Philly office, who recently was named Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations for the Western Region of the U.S. and International Operations, will become the ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Management. Larry Ford Will become Assistant Director of Office of Field Operations. Julie Torres will become Assistant Director of Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations.

Other changes are as follows: Gregory Gant will become the Assistant Director of Public and Governmental Affairs; James McDermond will return to the Office of Science and Technology as the Assistant Director; Theresa Stoop, head of the Baltimore Division, will become the Assistant Director of the Office of Human Resources and Professional Development; Vivian Michalic will become the Deputy Assistant Director of Office of Management and will remain the Chief Financial Officer for ATF; and Melanie Stinnett will become Deputy Chief Counsel of ATF.

The shakeups come in the midst of a Congressional inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious, a failed operation that encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Some of those guns have surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border.

They also come as  the new acting director B. Todd Jones moves to try and resurrect an agency that has been suffering from a severe case of low morale.

Reaction inside and outside ATF about the appointment of Brandon was met with praise.

“He’s a straight shooter, extremely competent, and he wants to do what’s right,” said one veteran ATF agent.

Andrew Arena, who heads up the FBI in Detroit, where Brandon was special agent in charge until recently, said:

“He’s one of the top officials I‘ve ever worked with in nearly 24 years of law enforcement. He gets what the mission is and he’s not into turf battles. He’s about getting it done.”

And Barbara McQuade, the U.S. Attorney in Detroit said “You’ll never meet a more dedicated law enforcement professional than Tom Brandon. He’s incredibly hard working, no ego and just cares about getting the job done. He’s everything you would want in a public servant.”

The change also come as the White House’s nomination for permanent director, Andrew Traver, remains in limbo. The NRA and other gun-rights groups have opposed his nomination, which has stalled in the Senate.  Observers say the nomination is likely to simply die. Traver heads up ATF’s Chicago office.

Brandon might have a better chance of getting confirmed as director. That being said,  the Obama administration isn’t like to spend political capital trying to get a director confirmed before the November 2012 election.   Jones, who is also a U.S. Attorney in Minnesota, is expected to stay on as acting director at least through the end of President Obama’s first term.

 

Management Shakeup Expected at ATF


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

With acting ATF Director B. Todd Jones in place, and the new fiscal year beginning, rumors are swirling about that ATF is soon expected to make a lot of changes in top management, which will result in a serious round of musical chairs.

One rumor circulating within ATF is that Thomas E. Brandon, who had just recently moved from Detroit to Phoenix to help clean up the mess in wake of the disastrous Operation Fast and Furious, will be headed to Washington to take on a senior leadership role.

Agents around the country have told tickethewire.com that Brandon has the respect of fellow agents.

The changes come in wake of the controversy over Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged Arizona firearms dealers to sell to questionable straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of some weapons, and some surfaced at crimes scenes on both sides of the border.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)  and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia.)  have  been investigating the fall out from  Operation Fast and Furious and have been raising questions about ATF’s leadership.

In the midst of their probe,  ATF acting director Ken Melson stepped down to head over to a post at the Justice Department. In stepped Jones, who has kept his post as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota.

The White House had nominated Andrew Traver, head of the ATF’s Chicago office, to become the new director. But his confirmation process got stalled, and the NRA put up a strong fight against him.

At this point, it appears Traver’s nomination will simply die out for lack of momentum. And it’s not likely that the Obama administration will spend its political capital trying to get any director confirmed before the election in November 2012.

Rumors have been circulating that the Justice Department wants to fold ATF into the FBI, but a federal source said that won’t happen.

The Examiner.com reported last week that there were rumors of  “a possible big shake up” at ATF,   but gave no specifics.

 

Three TSA Officers and 2 Cops Accused of Taking Bribes in Oxycodone Drug Ring

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Three TSA officers along with a Connecticut county cop and Florida state trooper were indicted in Connecticut Monday on charges of taking bribes to let powerful narcotics travel freely across the country, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The five were among 18 indicted in the drug conspiracy that involved the mass distribution of  oxycodone, authorities describe as a strong,  highly-addictive prescription narcotic.

“The facts of this case are troubling for two principal reasons,” U.S. Attorney David B. Fein said in a statement. “First, we allege that this organization was responsible for the transportation of tens of thousands of oxycodone pills, which, when abused, are dangerous narcotics that destroy individuals, families, and communities. Second, we allege that three officers of the Transportation Security Administration and two law enforcement officers accepted bribes in exchange for permitting the illegal drugs and the cash proceeds of the illegal drug trafficking to travel safely, undeterred by airport security or law enforcement.”

The bust was part of “Operation Blue Coast,” an investigation of the local DEA initiative in Bridgeport, Conn.: the Bridgeport High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.

The investigation began in April of this year. The DEA task force received information that someone with a large amount of oxycodone was going from Palm Beach, Fla., to Stamford, Conn., to sell thousands of the pills.

That individual was arrested on April 8 in possession of approximately 6,000 oxycodone pills in Stamford.

The suspected drug trafficker  told agents that over the course of about a year he had regularly purchased the drug from suppliers in Florida, flown or driven it to Connecticut several times a week, carrying up to 8,000 pills per trip, and then sold it to Connecticut traffickers. Airline records confirmed he had traveled from Florida to New York at least 65 times between November of last year and April of this year.  From New York he paid drivers to take him to and from drug deals in Connecticut.

But here’s where law enforcement officials come in: according to the press release,

“The arrested individual also explained that, to ensure the success of the operation, he provided cash and gift cards to Christopher Allen and John Best, TSA officers who screened passengers and luggage at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Brigitte Jones, a TSA officer who screened passengers and luggage at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, N.Y. …

He also said he made several payments, totaling more than $20,000, to Michael Brady, a Westchester County Police officer, in order to ensure that he could carry large quantities of cash, the proceeds of his drug trafficking, through airport security at HPN.  The individual further explained that he provided cash to Justin Kolves, a Florida State Trooper, and gave checks to Jessica Douglas, Kolves’ fiancée, in exchange for Kolves’ assurance that individuals who transported narcotics or currency on behalf of the individual would not be detained by law enforcement while driving through Central Florida.”

“The Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners have no tolerance for corruption in these ranks,” said U.S. Attorney Fein.

Number 2 at NY U.S. Atty. Office Leaving; Was Once Considered to Lead DEA

Boyd Johnson III/doj photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Boyd M. Johnson III, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s number 2 person, whose name had surfaced in 2009 as a contender to fill DEA’s top spot, is leaving government to join a private law firm, Globe Newswire reported.

Johnson plans to join the firm of WilmerHale in New York as a partner.

The New York Times reports that he will be replaced by Richard B. Zabel, who has run the office’s criminal division over the past two years.

Johnson, who had served in the number two spot since U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was appointed in 2009. He has overseen a number of major criminal prosecutions including the Bernie Madoff and Eliot Spitzer cases.

In 2009, his name was among of handful of candidates being mentioned for the director spot at DEA. The White House eventually went with Michele Leonhart, who had been the acting director for years.

 

ATF Agent Gets 3 Years and 1 Month for Theft of Guns and Cigarettes

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

You’d think Clifford Dean Posey, an ATF agent, would have known of the old adage: Crime doesn’t pay. Apparently not.

Posey, 43, of Chesapeake, Va., was sentenced Friday in Richmond, Va., to three years and one month in prison for stealing guns and cigarettes from ATF and selling them. The crimes began in 2007, authorities said.

He pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud, embezzlement, possessing or receiving stolen firearms, making a false statement and money laundering.

“When he became an ATF agent, Clifford Posey took an oath to uphold the law,” U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said in a statement. “Mr. Posey selfishly violated his oath and used his law enforcement power for personal gain. The law became an instrument of his greed, rather than a shield for those he was sworn to protect.”

 

Blood Gang Leader Admits to Murdering Teen in Case of Mistaken Identity

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A leader of a Bloods street gang in New Jersey has admitted to the murder of an innocent teenager in a case of mistaken identity, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

Torien Brooks, the 30-year-old leader of the Fruit Town and Brick City Brims subgroups or chapters of the Bloods, also admitted Tuesday in federal court in Newark to kidnapping a rival gang member and conspiring to sell narcotics, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said in a press release.

According to court documents, the murder took place on July 19, 2004 in Jersey City and involved Brooks and  co-defendant Emmanuel Jones, 27, of Jersey City, who went by the names “Killer,” “Killer E” and “Emo.” The documents say the two shot and killed who they thought to be responsible for an earlier shooting of a fellow gang member, but who was in fact an innocent teenager identified only as “M.T.” Three bystanders were hit by stray shots in the incident.

The kidnapping confession involves a rival gang member identified as “M.M.” According to ATF, Brooks said that he and fellow members Lary Mayo, 29, John Benning, 28, and Haleek State, 26 conspired to kidnap M.M. after a M.M. had changed gang sub-groups without permission.

The four kidnapped M.M. on April 11, 2005, pistol whipped him and took him to Patterson Falls, N.J., with the intent to kill him. M.M. was able to make a break and run to safety, according to court documents.

The narcotics confession involves a period in April 2007 and continuing for about a year in which Brooks and others conspired to smuggle heroin into Northern State Prison in Newark, where he was incarcerated. As part of the conspiracy, he and others in the Fruit Town and Brick City Brims gangs conspired to sell heroine on the streets of Paterson and have profits sent to his prison commissary account.

Brooks’ sentencing is set for Dec. 14. The racketeering count to which Brooks pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and $250,000. Jones, Mayo and Benning await sentencing for similar charges.

 

Chicago U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald Marks 10 Years on the Job